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tv   ABC World News With David Muir  ABC  December 10, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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>> the home owner says their sign is a tribute to their neighbor's hard work and have a lower electricity i'm david muir. and this is "world news," i'm david muir. and this is "world news" tonight from drake university in iowa. where the battle for the presidency goes prime time. the big showdown here on abc. the republican candidates going all out. to take on the surging newt gingrich. who takes aim? how will gingrich respond? why the stakes are so high tonight. a pivotal moment in the race for president. fighting back. mitt romney, scrambling to regain his position as the front-runner. and the bold assertions. who would be easier for the president to beat? do you believe newt gingrich would be easier for the president to beat in an election? also, tonight, the hollywood shootout. [ gunfire ] a gunman firing point blank on passing cars. and it's all caught on tape. bringing america back. the crusader made famous by julia roberts. but tonight, cynthia mcfadden with the real-life ending the movie didn't show. and standup comedy. candidates or comedians.
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those debate moments you couldn't script if you tried. rewind the tape. >> oops. >> as we ask what will happen tonight? and good evening, tonight, from iowa. as we come on the air tonight, we're getting ready for the big republican debate this evening right here on abc. you can see right over my shoulder here, diane and george have arrived. they're moderating. they're at the moderators' table. at the podium, standins for each of the candidates as the crews get ready for tonight's debate. they've been working all day and night at drake university in des moines for days now. transforming the auditorium to a national stage. for the republican candidates battling each other for the nomination. and a lot of the focus will be on the two men up at the podiums. new front-runner, newt gingrich and the man he replaced at the top, the one-time presumptive nominee, mitt romney. as we mentioned, diane and
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george are in the hall tonight. they'll be moderating. final preparations are under way. we ask tonight, why is this debate so pivotal? it's the first since the newt surge began. it's the first without herman cain. and with the iowa caucuses kicking off the voting three weeks from now, it's crunch time. our full team is with us. as we head into this showdown tonight. we begin here this evening with abc's chief white house correspondent jake tapper. >> reporter: the stakes are high. minds are being made up with only 24 days until the iowa caucuses. candidates have spent much of today in debate prep. >> i've been getting ready for my debate tonight. >> reporter: iowans have been impressed by former house speaker newt gingrich's performances in the 11 previous debates. his opponents' goal tonight -- to prevent him from having a 12th good debate, to knock him off his game, maybe to steer him towards one of the more controversial remarks he is prone to make that distract from his message, like this statement from yesterday when he discussed mideast peace. >> i think that we've had an
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invented palestinian people who are, in fact, arabs and were historically part of the arab community. >> reporter: the romney campaign said calling the palestinians "invented" is yet another example of gingrich's recklessness. >> that's one of the things that i think makes me a little nervous about speaker gingrich, is that sometimes he makes comments that are open to very broad interpretation. >> reporter: gingrich needs to avoid controversy and defend himself while not being defensive. many of those attacks will come from mitt romney. visiting his campaign office today, he was asked to explain his differences with gingrich. >> you can do it in one. >> i'll be doing that tonight. thank you. i'm sure we'll get plenty of opportunities to talk about our similarities and differences. >> reporter: romney, tonight, needs to avoid alienating voters by seeming too negative. are your supporters offering suggestions for tonight, governor? >> the most frequent one is just be yourself. >> and jake tapper is here with us in the hall tonight.
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so much focus on two candidates. on that stage tonight. but a lot riding on this for the rest. >> they have to convince the media, viewers and voters there are not just two candidates. there are seven. >> and newt gingrich laying down the gauntlet, just within the last hour or so. >> he's saying he'll be relentlessly positive. he's only going to run positive ads. his surrogates are only going to be positive. any third party group that supports him goes negative, he'll denounce them. he's challenging mitt romney. whose campaign has been negative. >> and in recent days. jake tapper with us here in the hall. see you in the spin room. thanks, jake. we continue on politics tonight. the race taking so many twists and turns. the surge that jake reported on to the top of the republican pack by newt gingrich might be the most unexpected turn of all. how did he do it? can he keep his place at the top? jon karl is in the spin room. where the campaigns will be watching their candidates very closely in this debate. jon, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, david. newt gingrich goes into this debate as the clear front-runner. it's a stunning turnaround for someone considered politically dead just a few weeks ago.
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the gingrich campaign had one of the most disastrous starts we have ever seen in presidential politics. within weeks of announcing his candidacy, gingrich was off on a cruise of the greek islands and facing questions about his $500,000 line of credit at tiffany's for his wife calista. his staff revolted, resigning en masse, and making his campaign a punchline. >> he's not even president and he's already raising the unemployment rate. >> reporter: everybody thought gingrich was dead, except gingrich. >> we'll find out over the next year who's right. >> reporter: in august came the first big test in iowa, the ames straw poll. of the candidates on stage tonight, gingrich came in dead last. ♪ oh say can you see >> reporter: how did he come back? one word, debates. >> how do you respond to people who say your campaign has been a mess so far? >> i wish you would put aside the gotcha questions. >> reporter: gingrich was combative, but with the news
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media, not his opponents. while they beat up on each other -- >> i'm speaking. i'm speaking. >> reporter: -- gingrich tried to stay above it all. >> all of us are committed as a team, whoever the nominee is, we're all for defeating barack obama. >> reporter: it also helped, of course, that one front-runner after another seemed to implode, leaving gingrich to rise at what might just be the right moment. as you heard jake say, gingrich is insisting he's going to remain positive in this debate. it won't be as easy being the front-runner and now under attack by the others. >> and, jon, you were telling me you learned of something else that will be on newt gingrich's podium tonight? >> as soon as he gets out to the podium, he writes down a few things. a few words of advice he got from his grandchildren. including from his 12-year-old granddaughter, maggie. her name, maggie, and a smiley face. she'll be in the audience counting how many times he smiles. she says he does not smile enough at these debates. >> we'll be watching, too.
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jon karl in the spin room tonight. jon, thanks. the man also watching the gingrich poll numbers, mitt romney. and what will he do tonight? i asked him, will he take aim at the former speaker? and this evening, more of our abc news exclusive. so, we have the debate. we're aware of newt gingrich's surging poll numbers, and so, a lot of people want to know, are you going to take on newt gingrich? >> well, we'll be talking about issues. of course, and we have different views on some issues and we'll be talking about those differences. that's, after all, the nature of a debate. >> reporter: karl rove said to abc that he thought within the romney campaign, staffers must be thinking we should have come out swinging against gingrich sooner. do you believe so, governor? >> well, you know, i'm just out there talking about what i believe is the right thing for the country. >> reporter: one of those issues -- reforming medicare. we asked romney about that plan by congressman paul ryan to create a voucher-like system for seniors to shop around for healthcare instead of the current medicare. >> i think the speaker called that a right-wing social engineering plan. i call it a major step forward.
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my own plan is very similar to paul ryan's. >> reporter: but paul ryan's plan would change medicare as we know it. >> i certainly hope we'll be able to sustain medicare over a long period of time and make sure it's financially stable, and paul ryan's plan, like mine, does not change the plan for current retirees. >> reporter: and that ad this week from the superpac, funded by many of mitt romney's donors. >> why is this man smiling? because his plan is working. brutally attack mitt romney and hope newt gingrich is his opponent. >> reporter: it showed a president obama smiling and implied that the president would be much happier if, in the end, he was going up against newt gingrich than if he goes up against you. do you believe newt gingrich would be easier for the president to beat in an election? >> no question in my mind that i represent the best chance we have of defeating president obama. >> our exclusive interview with mitt romney. i want to bring in christiane amanpour, the anchor of "this week." we got a hint of how president obama will be responding to the
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republican candidates, especially their criticism of his handling of foreign policy. take a listen and let me get your reaction here on the backside. >> republican candidates have taken aim at your approach of foreign policy, particularly the middle east and israel and accused you of appeasement. i wanted to get your reaction to that. >> ask osama bin laden and the 22 of 30 top al qaeda leaders that have been taken off the field whether i engage in appeasement. or whoever is left out there. ask them about that. >> christiane, do you suspect this is a hint of the strategy to come from the white house? >> possibly. because on the vital issue of national security, the president has inoculated himself and his administration and the democratic party on an issue of national security that the republicans are always accusing the democrats of being weak on. having taken out osama bin laden and any number of al qaeda leaders, having conducted the
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most drone strikes of any president, certainly more than president bush, he's really put that to rest. some republican strategists admit that as well. at the same time, these republican candidates are sort of drawing the tent in when it comes to foreign policy, not wanting any intervention. >> all right, christiane. i know you'll be watching this debate very closely as well. she'll have the fallout of the debate, who won, who lost, tomorrow morning on "this week." later tonight, a behind the scenes look at this debate hall. what you don't see at home and the one thing to watch for tonight. diane and george moderating this evening. 9:00 p.m. eastern, 6:00 pacific. a brand new way to weigh in in realtime. with your opinions as the debate is happening. you can download yahoo!'s into now app. on your ipad or iphone before the debate begins. we'll track your comments in real time. we move on to other news. including the global tide of political unrest overseas rising in a new place. thousands take to the streets in moscow to protest russian strongman vladimir putin.
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the new generation were out in front. wielding the power of technology to deliver a resounding message. here's abc's kelly cobiella tonight. >> reporter: it was the largest show of defiance since the fall of the soviet union. 50,000 russians, furious at a government they believe cheated. >> people want fair elections. people feel that their vote was stolen. >> reporter: there were only a handful of arrests, but plenty of demands. protesters want new elections. and they want vladimir putin to resign. >> if he'll do nothing, we'll continue. >> reporter: putin has ruled russia for 12 years. this is his biggest challenge yet, led by the internet generation, well-informed and fed up. they took cameras to the polls, sharing images like these on youtube, allegedly of erasable ink and rubber-stamped ballots. >> with these thiefs, russia has no future. >> reporter: putin still has the backing of millions and an approval rating of 60%, but it's sliding. the question is, can he keep enough russians on his side to win a new term as president in
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march? david? >> kelly cobiella tonight, thanks to you. back in this country, an extraordinary real-life scene playing out in hollywood. bullets flying when a gunman stood in the middle of a world-famous intersection, spraying shots at drivers and e pedestrians. one bullet struck a record company executive in the face. here's abc's t.j. winick. >> reporter: it looked like a scene from a movie. [ gunfire ] >> oh, my god! >> reporter: but the gunshots were real. today, police identified the shooter as 26-year-old tyler brehm. >> he was just shooting and a car drove by and he shot right into the car. >> reporter: the driver of this mercedes, shot in the face, is in critical but stable condition tonight. chris johns, videotaping from his fourth floor window, tried to distract the shooter. >> i was leaned out, completely exposing my body to the gunman, i wanted to give him a clear target. >> reporter: instead, the shooter asked him for more bullets. >> i don't have any, man. >> reporter: it was an off-duty police officer working on a nearby movie set who spotted the
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gunman. >> come on! >> reporter: according to police, brehm appeared to go for his gun, so the officer fired and killed him. >> take him out! [ gunfire ] >> reporter: his motives still a mystery. t.j. winick, abc news. and there's still much more ahead on "world news" this saturday from iowa. erin brockovich. the spunky crusader whose story was made into an award-winning movie. tonight, we go back. the real-life ending the movie didn't show. behind the scenes, how do they decide who stands where? who is in the middle? and candidates or comedians? who will get the last laugh here tonight? we'll look at the stunning moments that have happened already. >> i can't. the third one. i can't. i'm sorry. oops. i take an omega for my heart.
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side effects include nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor about cymbalta. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. go to to learn about a free trial offer. we're going to turn to our series, bringing america back. one of the best known crusaders of our time, erin brockovich. her fight against a california utility became a blockbuster movie. we were stunned to learn where that fight stands 15 years later. and so here, tonight, "nightline" coanchor cynthia mcfadden. >> reporter: meet the real erin brockovich. bold and brassy. with more than enough sass to play herself in the movie named for her. >> do me a favor, ed. don't use big words you don't understand. >> reporter: instead, julia roberts got the part and the oscar. >> once the chromium hit the ponds -- >> reporter: we first met brockovich 15 years ago, when we reported about what was going on in hinkley, california. in those days, brockovich was a file clerk at a law firm who
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found herself piecing together the stories of residents who were sick and scared. >> whole families are dying of cancer. >> reporter: brockovich ended up helping them make a case against the giant utility pacific gas and electric, who they claimed had poisoned their water supply with a chemical california now recognizes as a carcinogen, chromium six, and covered it up for decades. a few weeks after our story aired, pg&e settled with the hinkley residents for $333 million, the largest such direct action lawsuit in history, although pg&e never acknowledged making anyone sick. the movie became a hit. but ironically, the place that occupies much of brockovich's time these days is the one that made her famous -- hinkley. what are we doing back here? >> i don't know. >> i thought this was supposed to be fixed. >> it was supposed to be fixed. >> reporter: we were shocked to discover, all these years later, hinkley never got fixed. in fact, the area of the contamination has grown,
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according to the local water board. >> no one in hinkley is drinking water that doesn't meet the state water quality standard. but we certainly have an environmental groundwater cleanup issue to deal with. >> reporter: why didn't pg&e just go in and clean it up? >> i understand that people are questioning why it is taking so long. frankly, i'd like to see things moving more quickly myself. we've been able recently to submit a proposal with a solution. >> reporter: but to brockovich and many in hinkley, promises by pg&e are hard to believe. and a long time in the making. cynthia mcfadden, abc news, hinkley, california. >> our thanks to cynthia. she'll have much more on a special edition of "nightline prime time." bringing america back. we'll also be taking you behind the scenes with my interview with the ceo of ford. inside the american brand as we ask, how did they bring it back? that's bringing america back, american dreamers, at 8:00 p.m. eastern, 9:00 pacific.
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will be debating one another. just a short time from now. one of the things you don't often see are the seats reserved for the spouses. before the debate begins. anita perry, governor perry's wife. ann romney, governor mitt romney's wife. she'll be watching closely tonight. also watching closely, our political director and our senior washington editor. amy walter and rick klein. sort of an insider's guide, i'm curious. what will you be watching most closely? >> i'm going to be watching body language. and specifically, i'm going to be watching newt gingrich's body language. he's the man in the middle, literally and figuratively. his opponents are likely to come after him. how he responds will be very important to watch. in fact, if you could give me just one camera, i would put it right on newt gingrich and watch every single move that he makes. the facial expressions, the body language. >> incoming fire expected. for gingrich tonight. rick, what will you be watching? >> there's a new front runner in town. i'm going to be looking at the old front-runner. mitt romney. this is a critical debate for him. does he do something to try to change the dynamics of a campaign that is tipping away
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from him right now? does he throw a punch? back up some of the things his supporters are saying about newt gingrich? they're out there saying he's untrustworthy, questioning his conservative credentials. does he say those things about newt right to his face? >> does he use those words? on this stage here tonight. mitt and newt next to each other determined by the polling? >> that's right. they are one and two in the polls. they'll be right in the middle tonight. >> i'll see you in the spin room. that's where the campaigns react in real time. one other thing to show you at home. the time cues that the candidates will see. 1:00 on the clock there. that begins to descend as soon as they start to answer. 30 seconds for rebuttals. if you don't think there will be fireworks tonight, stay tuned for this. in a moment, we look at the funniest and most stunning moments of this campaign season so far. funniest and most stunning moments of this campaign season so far. moments of this campaign season so far. no problem. you want to save money on rv insurance? no problem. you want to save money on motorcycle insurance? no problem. you want to find a place to park all these things?
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but my nose is still runny. [ male announcer ] truth is, dayquil doesn't treat that. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ deep breath] awesome. [ male announcer ] yes, it is. that's the cold truth! and finally tonight here, each of the republicans about to debate here hopes to make an impression with the voters. they can do it through their policies. but sometimes, it's through their punchlines. here's abc's john berman. >> reporter: when these debates are over, we might be able to say something funny happened on the way to the white house. >> this is one night when i hope what happens in vegas doesn't stay in vegas. >> reporter: yes, these candidates bring substance. they bring stature and -- >> i would bring a sense of
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humor to the white house because america is too uptight. >> reporter: that might explain why jon huntsman tried this -- >> you've got governor romney, who called it a fraud in his book, "no apology." i don't know if that was written by kurt cobain or not. >> reporter: get it? get it? nirvana had a song called "all apologies." ♪ all apologies >> reporter: get it? that's okay. i didn't either. as rick perry might say -- >> oops. >> reporter: on the subject of rick perry, what about his pick for vice president? >> if you could take herman cain and mate him up with newt gingrich, i think you would have a couple of really interesting guys to work with. >> reporter: rebuttal from mitt "shecky" romney? >> there are a couple of images i'm going to have a hard time getting out of my mind. >> reporter: some humor is unintentional. the name is blitzer, wolf blitzer. >> no, blitz, that's oversimplifying it. i'm sorry, blitz. i meant wolf, okay? blitz, wolf. >> reporter: and sometimes the
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joke is on them. andy samberg on "saturday night live" playing rick santorum. the review? >> no, that's fine. i don't -- i don't watch much "saturday night live." >> reporter: and sometimes the material writes itself. >> i would do away with the education -- the -- um -- the -- >> commerce. >> commerce. and -- let's see. i can't -- the third one -- i can't. sorry. oops. >> reporter: or as rick perry would say -- >> oops. >> reporter: john berman, abc news, des moines. >> the big question, what will they say here tonight? it all begins at 9:00 p.m. eastern, 6:00 pacific. diane sawyer and george stephanopoulos will moderate. the republican candidates debating right here on abc. and as you can see, diane and george at the table. see you here shortly. good night. jljljljljljljljljljll
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